Connecting to public networks is a bad idea

You’ve seen it before, you are waiting at an airport or restaurant and a message pops up on your mobile device that a wireless network is available and ready for you to use, certainly you want to save on your data plan so you decide to join the network and browse the internet as usual.

The problem with this scenario is that in most instances the network you are connecting to is not secure, public networks are hosts to all sorts of devices, network traffic and types of users, it is fairly easy for an attacker to gain access to your shared folders and other resources without your knowledge.

A few years ago hacking devices were introduced to the public that allows a would be attacker to access all data traffic on a public network, all data transmitted through it gets stored and can be copied to a device without your knowledge. Social media entries, bank account records and private documents can be stolen.

Your mobile device communicates with your email service provider several times per hour sending your username and password across the network (in some cases without encryption) connected to the web, even if you are doing a bit of internet browsing or watching a movie, your login information is still at risk.

Use your data plan

It is recommended that you use your mobile device data plan as it offers better security than a public network.

Disable auto-join

If your device has this option go to your Wi-Fi settings and disable “Auto-Join”. Even if the public Wi-Fi hotspot is set by your carrier there is no guarantee of who else is connected to the same network. There is no way for a user to verify the authenticity and/or security of a public wireless network.

Disable Wi-Fi

The best way to ensure your mobile device does not to public networks is to disable the Wi-Fi capabilities in settings when you are not at home or in the office.

Enable SSL

Your mobile device is capable of connecting to your email account securely using SSL (encrypted transmission) this protects your login information from being transmitted over the network in plain-text, instead it is transmitted in encrypted form and it is virtually impossible to decode.

Even with encryption enabled you should avoid connecting to public networks as much as possible.